Cape Town - Since availability of Covid-19 vaccines, the Western Cape government has been on an energetic campaign to get more people inoculated against Covid-19.
However, a recent visit and talk by British anti-vaxxer and campaigner Dr Aseem Malhotra at the Provincial Legislature ruffled a few feathers once word spread.
Premier Alan Winde and Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo have distanced themselves from the parliamentary event and the views expressed by the invited guest.
Dr Malhotra shared an image of himself standing next to DA leader John Steenhuisen, with the meeting facilitated by Western Cape legislature deputy speaker Beverley Schäfer on Wednesday.
“The international scientific evidence clearly shows that the Covid-19 vaccines are the best tools to manage Covid-19, and that it has saved and continues to save lives. The national Covid vaccination programme remains the policy of the department and we remain committed to its ongoing rollout,” Mbombo said.
Neither the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness, nor the Premier’s Office, was in any way involved with the event hosted by the provincial legislature, and distance themselves from the purported views expressed by the invited speaker.— Premier Alan Winde (@alanwinde) March 15, 2023
Vaccines will continue to be offered to residents and remain an integral part of the Western Cape Government's fight against the Coronavirus.— Premier Alan Winde (@alanwinde) March 15, 2023
Those who falsely claim that they are a danger are wrong and they should be held to account for their views.— Premier Alan Winde (@alanwinde) March 15, 2023
Dr Malhotra was scheduled to deliver a talk on March 7 on “Unsafe and Ineffective vaccines and Ethical and Evidence-based Healthcare”.
The video of the event has been removed from YouTube for violating the site’s community guidelines.
Winde said: “It is not my role to comment on the role of parliament, and I respect that it is a separate arm of government, but I hope that how this event happened will be investigated.
“I and my administration believe that vaccines have and continue to save lives. Those who falsely claim that they are a danger are wrong and they should be held to account for their views.”
Schäfer said the talk was part of her newly launched #lunchtimetalks in the auditorium.
“I have a list of speakers that I will invite on a myriad interesting topics that can enhance inter-party relationships across all levels of Parliament – National Assembly, NCOP and our Legislature.
“Dr Malhotra, who appeared as a speaker in the BizNews conference recently, just happened to be in Cape Town and I was able to get him for a lecture on the topic of ethical-based healthcare,” Schäfer said.
“As I am involved in international relations, I was super happy to get an international speaker to my first event. I then proceeded to invite all members from all parties sitting on the health committees, from the National Assembly, NCOP and our Legislature to attend on a voluntary basis.”
Schäfer said the talk was not delivered in Parliament, but rather a public venue, adding that the lunchtime lectures were to encourage open and healthy discussion.
Taking to social media, Dr Malhotra said: “It’s a tough battle for those fighting to expose the greatest corporate crime and harm to population health we will ever witness.
“We win by making the injustices visible and by especially hitting mainstream media. UK, US and India done. Now South Africa.”
An open and awake politician. Honoured to be invited to meet with the leader of the Democratic Alliance party @jsteenhuisen courtesy of @bevschafer 🙏We discussed ethical evidence based medicine & improving quality care for patients through informed consent. There is hope 👊 pic.twitter.com/5HNfMKDv0O— Dr Aseem Malhotra (@DrAseemMalhotra) March 15, 2023